The family of Lt Dilip Gupte, who was 23 years old when he died in battle 1965, is recalling his bravery on the 50th anniversary of the war. No medal had been given to the war hero but the Mumbai-based Guptes are hoping that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will keep his promise to attend a function to salute the war hero on October 11.
Sixty-five-year-old Dr Rajan Gupte, who runs a maternity hospital at Mahim in Mumbai and is Dilip’s younger brother, told The Indian Express they were waiting for confirmation from the defence minister to visit the Guptes at a function to pay homage to the war hero.
“We do not expect anything from the Centre. This is the golden jubilee year of the Indo-Pak war and on the occasion, the defence minister has agreed to come. We hope his visit will be an inspirational one to encourage youngsters today,” Gupte told The Indian Express. “I was in Standard X then and we were so happy and proud of him,” says Dr Gupte.
“At a very young age my brother knew his mind and wanted to join the army. He died for the country when he was barely 23. His life was short, but a striking one,” he says.
Lt Dilip had told his fiancée in his last letter that he won’t be writing for a long time. He never did.
He received orders to join his unit as Pakistan was pushing Army troops to India in the guise of Razakars over Kishenganga river through Jura bridge. The aim of the Indian Army was to flatten the bridge and the 4 Kumaon battalion was tasked to demolish the bridge. Lt Dilip Gupte with his platoon was to give support. The orders came after ceasefire was declared, and the operation was to be carried out with stealth and caution, Dr Gupte said.
CO, 4 Kumaon, Lt Col Arthur Salick planned the operation by taking the battalion over Bimla pass at height of 12,000ft in enemy territory, marching over 25 kms.
The battalion with support elements marched for almost seven days in snowbound terrain, facing icy winds. Along the way, they came across the enemy at three places and pushed them back. Lt Gupte was attached to D Coy of 4 Kumaon commanded by Maj Y S Bisht, leading the march. On reaching the Jura bridge, they found it unapproachable, because of the steep, almost vertical slope.
It was during a counter attack by the enemy that Kumaonis lost 42 soldiers including Lt Gupte. The skirmishes on the way had left the battalion short of ammunition. According to eyewitness accounts, troops including Lt Gupte used rifle butts and managed to defeat the enemy. Maj Bisht received bullet injuries in the neck and was evacuated. Another Indian platoon with Lt D K Dhawan in command rushed to join the battle.